Tory MPs in Trouble
Derek Conway's offence is relatively easy to understand, compared to the sometimes labyrinthine arguments about campaign funding that have been afflicting a succession of Labour figures. The Tory MP for Old Sidcup and Bexley used his Commons expenses - a perfectly legal entitlement - to pay his two sons a hefty wage for 'research work' that coincided with their passage through university. A perfectly unethical action. Essentially, he took taxpayers' money for his own family's advantage - theft I think it's known as. Now Conway is not a significant figure in the Tory party - an old rightist of little wider influence who huffs and puffs a lot on right-wing issues. It probably wasn't the most difficult decision for David Cameron to remove the Tory whip from him. Nonetheless, at least Cameron did act, and relatively swiftly (although not without a bit of overnight dithering), which one can't help but observe was a deal more decisive than anything coming from Brown. MPs of all parties may be guilty of low-level misdemeanours - they are human after all - but one can judge a leadership by its willingness to draw a ruthless line and take clear action. John Major's downfall was occasioned in part by his supreme reluctance to sack ministers involved in sleaze. Seems he may have set the standard for his successors as PM.
There is another story emerging about Eastbourne's Tory MP, who has been questioned by police following assault allegations on his teenage son and daughter. The editor of Conservative Home, who seems to know a little about the case, is urging his readers not to jump to conclusions while the story stays under legal wraps. Indeed, he seems to suggest that Nigel Waterson may emerge with credit from the affair. Intriguing.